Japan's convenience stores to ditch porn mags ahead of Olympics

The decisions came as Japan's ubiquitous convenience stores serve more women and families with young children, as well as waves of tourists visiting the country in record numbers.
The decisions came as Japan's ubiquitous convenience stores serve more women and families with young children, as well as waves of tourists visiting the country in record numbers.PHOTO: ST FILE

TOKYO (AFP) - Japan's omnipresent convenience stores are preparing to stop selling pornographic magazines before waves of tourists visit the nation for the Olympic Games and the Rugby World Cup.

Industry leader 7-Eleven said on Tuesday (Jan 22) it would phase out sales of "adult" magazines by this summer, just ahead of the world rugby showcase starting in September, after its rival Lawson announced a similar plan on Monday.

The decisions came as Japan's ubiquitous convenience stores serve more women and families with young children, as well as waves of tourists visiting the country in record numbers.

At Japan's 24-hour convenience stores, customers can buy everything from warm meals to concert tickets, pay utility bills, and send and receive parcels.

But tourists are often surprised to see adult magazines openly available on low shelves.

The decision by the two major chains, coming after similar moves by smaller rivals, "is aimed at avoiding giving a bad impression" to foreigners during the World Cup and summer Olympic Games, which Japan will host this and next year respectively, Kyodo News said.

Seven & i Holdings, which runs 20,700 7-Eleven stores across Japan, including franchise outlets, said the decision was made after reviewing "various opinions".

About 5,000 stores have never carried or have stopped selling porn, which accounts for less than 1 per cent of overall sales, said a company spokesman.

 
 
 

"We knew those sporting events are coming in the future, and those were among factors that we considered," he told AFP, adding that it was not the only reason behind the decision.

Traditionally, customers at 7-Eleven mainly sought to buy things they could eat immediately, like boxed lunches.

Now, as many working women balance their jobs and families, more customers are buying cut vegetables and other products they can easily cook and eat at home.

"The way people use 7-Eleven has changed over the years," the spokesman said.

"We can sell other merchandise at the newly available space," he said.